Boston's Wildcat Branch

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Re: Boston's Wildcat Branch

Postby The EGE » Thu Sep 20, 2012 5:39 pm

Doubtful. Oak Grove could be done by eliminating the (mostly unused) CR platform, but Malden Center would be very difficult - it might be necessary to stagger the platforms.
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Re: Haverhill trains which did not use the Wildcat

Postby railfan1988 » Sat Mar 05, 2016 4:15 pm

Going back fifteen or sixteen years, around 2000/2001, I seem to recall that most Haverhill Line trains did not use the Wildcat Branch. Does anyone know which ones did and which ones did not? And why were the trains that went the Haverhill Line all the way re-routed over the Wildcat? Also, back then, I believe there were two inbound Haverhill Line trains that went express from Andover or Ballardvale to Boston; one was a morning rush hour train and the other was a late afternoon train (both of those trains were re-routed over the Wildcat a long time ago). Hopefully, someone out there has a schedule from back then and can shed some light on this.
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Re: Boston's Wildcat Branch

Postby Rockingham Racer » Sat Mar 05, 2016 6:36 pm

I don't have any recollection of the majority of trains using the Wildcat. But I'd be interested in knowing if people who have saved schedules could back up the claim.
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Re: Boston's Wildcat Branch

Postby railfan1988 » Sat Mar 05, 2016 7:42 pm

Rockingham Racer wrote:I don't have any recollection of the majority of trains using the Wildcat. But I'd be interested in knowing if people who have saved schedules could back up the claim.


Like I said, my recollection is that most Boston-to-Haverhill and Haverhill-to-Boston trains which currently use the Wildcat did not use it back then. They have since been re-routed over the Wildcat. Again, I recall that there were at least two Haverhill-to-Boston trains which went express to Boston from either Andover or Ballardvale, even bypassing Reading and Wakefield. Both of those trains now run via the Wildcat.
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Re: Boston's Wildcat Branch

Postby edbear » Sat Mar 05, 2016 8:44 pm

Effective June 14, 1959, all Boston-Lawrence-Haverhill-Dover-Portland & North Conway service operated via the Wildcat. The Western Route out of Boston was limited to Boston-Reading trains. The double track from Reading to Lowell Junction was reduced to single track. I believe the 112/115# rail in the remaining single iron was lifted for re-use elsewhere and replaced with 85#. A new stop was created on the Wildcat at Salem Street and named Salem Street to replace North Wilmington. It was just a platform with a big parking area and some lighting. During the 1959-1965 period, some Haverhill trains made local stops at Winchester and Wilmington, but most only made conditional stops. Riding was so light in that era that some of the early morning trips or late night trips made passengers change at Wilmington to go to Lowell while the main train went to- Haverhill or vice versa. With the almost complete end of any intercity train service on the B & M, the only non-subsidized service out of Boston were a single round-trip each to Dover, NH, Concord, NH and Newburyport. The Dover service was later cut back to Haverhill and finally expired in the mid-1970s. When the MBTA resumed Haverhill service in 1979, most of the routing was via Reading, but some trips were routed via the Wildcat to avoid having meets on the single track between Wilmington Jct. and Reading. In an earlier life, the Wildcat did have passenger service from Lawrence or Haverhill to Boston but by the 1920s, so few people were riding, that if someone wanted to go from Lawrence to Medford, for example, they had to go to Malden or Melrose and use a bus or trolley to finish their trip. In the late 1920s, the B & M did a lot of upgrading and reconfiguring and the Wildcat essentially became a one-way freight operation. Through freights from Boston to Portland operated outward from Boston via Melrose and Portland-Boston through freights were normally routed via the Wildcat due to the layout changes of the Boston Yards.
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Re: Boston's Wildcat Branch

Postby railfan1988 » Sat Mar 05, 2016 9:47 pm

edbear wrote:Effective June 14, 1959, all Boston-Lawrence-Haverhill-Dover-Portland & North Conway service operated via the Wildcat. The Western Route out of Boston was limited to Boston-Reading trains. The double track from Reading to Lowell Junction was reduced to single track. I believe the 112/115# rail in the remaining single iron was lifted for re-use elsewhere and replaced with 85#. A new stop was created on the Wildcat at Salem Street and named Salem Street to replace North Wilmington. It was just a platform with a big parking area and some lighting. During the 1959-1965 period, some Haverhill trains made local stops at Winchester and Wilmington, but most only made conditional stops. Riding was so light in that era that some of the early morning trips or late night trips made passengers change at Wilmington to go to Lowell while the main train went to- Haverhill or vice versa. With the almost complete end of any intercity train service on the B & M, the only non-subsidized service out of Boston were a single round-trip each to Dover, NH, Concord, NH and Newburyport. The Dover service was later cut back to Haverhill and finally expired in the mid-1970s. When the MBTA resumed Haverhill service in 1979, most of the routing was via Reading, but some trips were routed via the Wildcat to avoid having meets on the single track between Wilmington Jct. and Reading. In an earlier life, the Wildcat did have passenger service from Lawrence or Haverhill to Boston but by the 1920s, so few people were riding, that if someone wanted to go from Lawrence to Medford, for example, they had to go to Malden or Melrose and use a bus or trolley to finish their trip. In the late 1920s, the B & M did a lot of upgrading and reconfiguring and the Wildcat essentially became a one-way freight operation. Through freights from Boston to Portland operated outward from Boston via Melrose and Portland-Boston through freights were normally routed via the Wildcat due to the layout changes of the Boston Yards.


This is all very interesting, however, I am trying to find out how many Haverhill Line Commuter Rail trains used the Wildcat Branch around 2000/2001. My recollection is that only one or two did and I would like to know which ones they were and why more CR trains now use the Wildcat. I would also like to know if there were, in fact, two inbound Haverhill Line trains which went express from Andover to Boston at the time, not using the Wildcat.
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Re: Boston's Wildcat Branch

Postby BostonUrbEx » Sat Mar 05, 2016 11:31 pm

edbear wrote:In the late 1920s, the B & M did a lot of upgrading and reconfiguring and the Wildcat essentially became a one-way freight operation. Through freights from Boston to Portland operated outward from Boston via Melrose and Portland-Boston through freights were normally routed via the Wildcat due to the layout changes of the Boston Yards.


Fascinating -- this is still the case in some instances. DOBO nearly always goes down via the Wildcat and NH Route, but comes back up via the Western Route.
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Re: Boston's Wildcat Branch

Postby Rockingham Racer » Sun Mar 06, 2016 6:06 am

Thanks for jogging my memory, edbear! And on the Haverhill Line, I believe I remember that crews swapped under the newly-constructed I-93 overpass.
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Re: Boston's Wildcat Branch

Postby The EGE » Sun Mar 06, 2016 10:12 am

As of the schedule effective October 29, 2001 (the oldest weekday schedule I have):

Train 208 left Haverhill at 6:55, all stops to Ballardvale at 7:15, Anderson at 7:34, express to Boston at 7:56
Train 232 left Haverhill at 4:30, all stops to Ballardvale at 4:50, Anderson at 5:07, express to Boston at 5:30
Train 236 left Haverhill at 5:55, all stops to Ballardvale at 6:15, Wilmington at 6:30, Anderson at 6:34, express to Boston at 7:00

Train 205 left Boston at 7:19, express to Anderson at 7:39, Wilmington at 7:43, Ballardvale at 7:57, all stops to Haverhill at 8:18
Train 237 left Boston at 6:55, express to Winchester at 7:10, Anderson at 7:17, Wilmington at 7:21, Ballardvale at 7:35, all stops to Haverhill at 7:56

All except the morning outbound still exist in the schedule, with only slight changes to their times. There is also one additional morning, midday, and evening inbound via the Wildcat.
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Re: Boston's Wildcat Branch

Postby railfan1988 » Sun Mar 06, 2016 11:09 am

The EGE wrote:As of the schedule effective October 29, 2001 (the oldest weekday schedule I have):

Train 208 left Haverhill at 6:55, all stops to Ballardvale at 7:15, Anderson at 7:34, express to Boston at 7:56
Train 232 left Haverhill at 4:30, all stops to Ballardvale at 4:50, Anderson at 5:07, express to Boston at 5:30
Train 236 left Haverhill at 5:55, all stops to Ballardvale at 6:15, Wilmington at 6:30, Anderson at 6:34, express to Boston at 7:00

Train 205 left Boston at 7:19, express to Anderson at 7:39, Wilmington at 7:43, Ballardvale at 7:57, all stops to Haverhill at 8:18
Train 237 left Boston at 6:55, express to Winchester at 7:10, Anderson at 7:17, Wilmington at 7:21, Ballardvale at 7:35, all stops to Haverhill at 7:56

All except the morning outbound still exist in the schedule, with only slight changes to their times. There is also one additional morning, midday, and evening inbound via the Wildcat.


If you looked at a schedule from a year earlier, I am almost certain that you would see that Trains 208 and 232 did not use the Wildcat at the time and that they were both express trains. I could have sworn that the schedule from then indicated that. Also, is there any way that you can post a picture of your schedule on here? It would be fun to compare it with today's Haverhill Line schedule.
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Re: Boston's Wildcat Branch

Postby railfan1988 » Sun Feb 26, 2017 5:08 pm

The EGE wrote:As of the schedule effective October 29, 2001 (the oldest weekday schedule I have):

Train 208 left Haverhill at 6:55, all stops to Ballardvale at 7:15, Anderson at 7:34, express to Boston at 7:56
Train 232 left Haverhill at 4:30, all stops to Ballardvale at 4:50, Anderson at 5:07, express to Boston at 5:30
Train 236 left Haverhill at 5:55, all stops to Ballardvale at 6:15, Wilmington at 6:30, Anderson at 6:34, express to Boston at 7:00

Train 205 left Boston at 7:19, express to Anderson at 7:39, Wilmington at 7:43, Ballardvale at 7:57, all stops to Haverhill at 8:18
Train 237 left Boston at 6:55, express to Winchester at 7:10, Anderson at 7:17, Wilmington at 7:21, Ballardvale at 7:35, all stops to Haverhill at 7:56

All except the morning outbound still exist in the schedule, with only slight changes to their times. There is also one additional morning, midday, and evening inbound via the Wildcat.


Perhaps I was wrong about this whole thing. However, one inbound train on the Haverhill Line that I know did not use the Wildcat Branch was Train #222, which was the return trip of 215, a train that turned at Andover. About eight years ago, 222 was rerouted over the Wildcat. I'm not sure why, but I suspect it was because 222 would always meet Train #217 at Ash Street, in Reading (217 was the 1:10 out of Boston). This meet would cause 217 to be delayed. Is there any chance that you can look on one of your old Haverhill Line schedules and tell me all of the times for 217 and 222? That way, I will be able to tell if the two trains would have met at Ash Street. Thanks!
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